Puzzlenut tree – proven benefits, uses

puzzlenut tree

The scientific name of the puzzlenut tree is Xylocarpus moluccensis . It is also known as Cannonball mangrove.

Other common names include

Bigi (Tagb.)

Piyagaw (Tag.)

Kolimbaning (Ilk.)

Pulit (Yak.)

Lubanayong (Ibn.)

Tabigi (Tag., Bik., P. Bis., S. L. Bis., C. Bis.)

Migi (Pamp.)

Tibigi (Tag., Bik.)

Nige (Tagb., Bik., Tag.)

Tambo-tambo (Sub., Mag., Sul.)

Nigi (Tagb.)

Tambu-tambu (Mag.)

Piadak (Tagb.)

Piagau (Tag., P. Bis., Sul.)

Puzzlenut tree  is a small tree growing 3-12 meters high. Leaves are abruptly pinnate, with pairs of leaflets which are elliptic or obovate, 8 to 18 centimeters long, 4 to 8 centimeters wide, with a pointed base and rounded tip. Flowers are small, white, 4-parted, borne on short terminal or axillary panicles. Fruit is spherical, 9 to 12 centimeters in diameter, with 6 to 12 seeds. Pericarp is hard and fibrous, splitting into 4 valves. Seeds are angled, with a spongy integument.


– Throughout the  mangrove swamps, bordering tidal streams.

– Including Philippines, India and Ceylon through Malaya and New Caledonia.


– Solid fat, 40-60%; tannin.

– The seeds, fruits and stems yield a large number of limonoids.

– Phytochemical exam of fruits of X. granatum isolated five new protolimonoids, protoxylocarpins A-E, and two new limonoids, xylocarpins J and K, together with xyloccensis M and Y.

– Seeds yielded 13 compounds: a new one,named indiangranatumin A, together with known compounds swietemahonolide, febrifugin ,khayasin T, febrifugin A , gedunin, isolariciresinol, phaseic acid, aromadendrin, 4-hydroxy cinnamic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid,and xylogranatinin.

– Seed kernels yielded three new phragmalin limonoids, moluccensins H-J.


Bitter, astringent, anti-diarrhetic.

Bark and root considered astringent.

Parts used and preparation

Fruits and seeds.

Folkloric traditional medicine benefits and uses of puzzlenut tree

Fruits or seeds , powdered or decoction, are used for diarrhea.

In Tonga, the bark is used for candidiasis, scabies, baby rash, stomach pains, constipation.

In Malaya, used for cholera, colic diarrhea, and other abdominal affections.

In Fiji, bark used for headaches, fatigue, candidiasis (leaves and bark), joint pains, chest pains and buccal pains.

Also used for replapsing sickness.

In Bangladesh, used for gastrointestinal disturbances such as cholera, dysentery, diarrhea; also for fever.

Scientific proven health benefits of puzzlenut tree

Neuropharmacological / CNS depressant activity:

Study on the CNS effects of X moluccensis showed that both the bark and peumatophore extracts possess CNS depressant activity, the pneumatophore more potent than the bark. It produced dose-dependent reduction of pentobarbitone-induced hypnosis, reduction of locomotor and exploratory activities.

Anti-bacterial / Anti-diarrheal:

Study of the methanolic extract of bark of XM showed moderate inbitory activity against E coli, S aureus, S epidermis, Shigella dysentery, S typhii, among others suggesting a potential source for antidiarrheal drug development.


Study of crude extract of X granatum showed significant antimicrobial activity against S epidermis, S aureus, Shigella boydii and Proteus spp and moderate activity against E coli and S pyogenes.

Antioxidant / Flavonols:

Methanol extract showed to be rich in flavan-3-ols and procyanidins. It exhibited excellent DPPH radical scavenging and 15-lipoxygenase inhibiting activities attributed to the high content of catechins and procyanidins.


In a study of Bangladeshi medicinal plants, the methanol extract of Xm showed low toxicity against mouse fibroblasts but selective toxicity against different cancer cell lines.

Study showed two of six extracts of X. moluccensis leaves and bark and XG bark exhibited promising cytotoxic activity against human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cell line.


Study yielded seven new phragmalins: moluccensins A-G.

Study isolated three new polyhydroxylated phragmalins, named xyloccensins Y, Z1 and Z2 from the fruit of Xylocarpus granatum, with eight known compounds.


Study of methanol extract of XG bark for in experimental diarrhea induced by castor oil and magnesium sulfate in mice showed significant dose-dependent antidiarrheal activity and supports its use in traditional herbal medicine.

Antifilarial / Genudin and Photogedunin:

Study in experimental rodent host evaluating the antifilarial activity of X. granatum showed the fruit extract contains promising in vitro and in vivo antifilarial activity against human lymphatic filarial parasite B. malayi. The activity was attributed to two pure compounds gedunin and photogedunin.



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